Earlier on this morning, I had a meeting with two budding authors, one from National University of Singapore (NUS) and another from my alma mater, Singapore Management University (SMU). They (together with one more co-author) are writing a book on entrepreneurship in an interview style format. Not rocket science per se, my first book was written in such a format too. But they came with a list of 7-8 detailed questions on differentiation, marketing & partnership strategies, crowdfunding platform and campaign ideas for me,
I’d be lying to say I didn’t see myself in them. Two plus years back, when I decided to write my INSPIRIT book on public speaking, I had similar concerns and struggles as well. Only difference I could only talk to myself while they have two additional co-authors to work things out. But it was months of agony, working aimlessly, entertaining thoughts of giving up etc. After all, most 20-somethings don’t start out planning to publish a book out of college.
I shared with them my “success” in crowdfunding over $14,000+ USD, landing multiple media mentions even before the physical book was out, as a first-time author — the platform, process, priorities all the way down to pricing. Looking back, I was wholly consumed by the creation that it became my predominant thought. As I worked them through the considerations, I guess what inspired me most was that they were not the most informed about book publishing and crowdfunding. YET, they just dived deep into it, anyway.
Foolhardy, I’d call them. And I think that’s the EXACT spirit young people should embrace!
The sense of not-knowing or not fully knowing but yet still embracing that process every bit and discovering things as you go. It’s the perfect state and license to be bold because you are at the stage of life where your responsibilities (or relative lack of) free you to experiment.
And choosing to play it safe, tried and tested may not be the safest strategy after all. And I wish more people (especially my Gen-X and Boomer clients) see and appreciate this foolhardiness in young people. And perhaps see themselves in them too.
Just last week, I also tailored 4 new business shirts. The founder of the tailor shop cum tailor was young (early 20s) but was every bit professional, immaculate and told me advice I didn’t even hear from the mature tailors (in their 40s, 50s) I’ve been to! So i asked him how he started and developed his expertise. He told me he was driven by his passion for people to be dressed better so he packed his bag and went to a Thailand factory on his own and worked there for 3 whole months as an apprentice to learn the art of tailoring and clothing making.
Every time I hear or listen a remark that our young people are lazy, directionless and apathetic, I cringe because I know I’ve seen better. I’ve seen and known young ones taking deep dives, hunkering down in action and making big leaps.
As a parting gift, these 2 authors passed me a box of curry puff. And I thought it would be an apt analogy of youths. That youths can be like curry puffs — not often the most appealing or inspiring at first glance, but we pack a punch with what’s inside.
You probably won’t regret.
About the Author: Benjamin Loh is an Executive Public Speaking Coach, TEDx Speaker, Author and Professional Speaker on Millennial Matters. As the youngest Associate Certified Coach in Singapore and possibly, Asia-Pacific, he has coached over 100 corporate executives and entrepreneurs individually with over 750 hours of direct coaching and trained over 3,000 clients in high impact mass trainings in public speaking, presentation skills and leading the multi-generational workforce and Millennials. His work in entrepreneurship and public speaking has been featured on over 60 occasions on both local and regional media platforms like Channel News Asia (CNA), Vietnam QKTV, BFM Malaysia, Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK), Straits Times (ST), Business Times (BT) and News938 Live.